Thank God for DeAngelo Williams. (Seriously, I’m actually going to purchase his jersey, I think. He is easily one of my top five favorite Steelers players of all time). Williams, who is currently a free agent after two productive seasons in Pittsburgh, has spent most of the offseason engaging fans on Twitter and trying his hand at professional wrestling. Having been successful in these endeavors, Williams broadened his horizons by using his segment on Adam Schefter’s podcast to launch insults at Cowboys fans, NFL bottom feeders and, of course, Tom Brady.
Displaying a level of tactfulness that only an amateurish professional wrestler could, Williams listed four NFL franchises for which he would prefer not to play: Dallas, Carolina, Cleveland and Jacksonville. Carolina is obvious, as their split with Williams following the 2014-15 season was anything but amicable. Williams acknowledged the futility that has become a hallmark of the Jaguars and Browns, stating that he’s never seen the latter post a winning record and that the former’s only distinctive feature is its in-stadium swimming pools. Needless to say, Williams’ unwillingness to join Carolina, Cleveland or Jacksonville is justifiable.
Dallas would seem to be a markedly more captivating destination for Williams, at least on the surface. Despite this organization’s glowing prestige and formidable offensive line, Williams has no interest in joining because he was a fan of the San Francisco 49ers as a child. Williams discussed Dallas at length, so let’s rank his top three quotes from the Schefter interview:
3. “They [Dallas] always disappear in the playoffs.” (Dallas has won just three postseason games since their most recent Super Bowl victory).
2. “[Cowboys] fans just got super annoying. The next minute they lose, they either got cheated, somebody was hurt, the excuses start flowing.”
1. “Still, to this day, they [Cowboys fans] say that the Dez Bryant catch against the Packers was a catch.” (This is in reference to Dallas’ 21-26 loss to the Packers in the 2014 Divisional Round of the NFC playoffs in which Cowboys received Dez Bryant appeared to catch what could have been a game-altering 30-yard almost touchdown. It was eventually ruled incomplete.)
Williams, who, as of writing, is a pending free agent and still hopes to land an NFL job, has laughed in the face of convention by insulting the fans of the most valuable sports organization in the world. Not satisfied with disparaging the Cowboys, Williams also shot his shot by calling Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time, “a system quarterback.” Whether or not this was intended as a direct insult is open to interpretation (it probably wasn’t, and even if it was, every quarterback in the NFL is technically a “system quarterback”), but will probably be viewed as such, especially when taking Williams’ penchant for keeping it real into consideration.
The most important outcome from Williams’ interview is the fact that he is open to a return to the Steelers. Williams was wildly successful in his two-year stint as Le’Veon Bell’s backup, rushing for 1,250 yards and 17 touchdowns in just 14 starts, which is comparable to the totals posted by LeSean McCoy is his All-Pro 2011 season with the Eagles. McCoy was 23 that season, whereas Williams is currently 33.
Of course, returning to Pittsburgh would require Williams to a) take a considerable pay cut and b) be content as the backup. Williams had literally five carries from Weeks 5 through 16 last season, though, by all accounts, he was fine with this, so it isn’t unreasonable to expect similar results this season. Pittsburgh used a third-round draft choice to select hometown hero James Conner, but his status as Bell’s primary backup has yet to be confirmed. If Pittsburgh signed Williams tomorrow, I think he would have a very good shot at maintaining his status as the no. 2 back.
As it stands, Williams has plenty of options. If returning to the NFL as a member of the 28 teamed not located in Cleveland, Dallas, Carolina, or Jacksonville doesn’t work out, Williams definitely has a future as a television or radio personality.